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New Ways of Multiplying

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129844D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 4 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

JOHN MCPHERSON: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The following report was written by John McPherson in late 1935 and submitted to IBM Think magazine for publication. However, it was never published and recently resurfaced on John's desk. The report outlines the development of methods for doing mass multiplication using a tabulating machine that was routinely used for simpler calculations in many companies. The tabulator was the mainstay of the IBM punched-card business and as such was the natural candidate for being expanded by the introduction of the operation of multiplication. While this report does not propose to modify the circuitry of the tabulator to perform multiplication, it does provide the operator with a means of accomplishing such a task using the machine's built-in capabilities.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

New Ways of Multiplying

JOHN MCPHERSON

The following report was written by John McPherson in late 1935 and submitted to IBM Think magazine for publication. However, it was never published and recently resurfaced on John's desk. The report outlines the development of methods for doing mass multiplication using a tabulating machine that was routinely used for simpler calculations in many companies. The tabulator was the mainstay of the IBM punched-card business and as such was the natural candidate for being expanded by the introduction of the operation of multiplication. While this report does not propose to modify the circuitry of the tabulator to perform multiplication, it does provide the operator with a means of accomplishing such a task using the machine's built-in capabilities.

An age-old problem has been greatly simplified in the past few years. The interplay of ideas and inventions which have led to this change form a fascinating chapter in the story of man's accumulation of knowledge and an interesting example of the process by which knowledge replaces ignorance.

In the development of science and in expansion of business, the tediousness of multiplication has been a continuous brake on rapid progress. If you question the magnitude of this obstacle, try multiplying a single seven- or eight-digit number by another, choosing your numbers at random and timing yourself to see how long it takes you to arrive at a correct answer. Or, to make it easier, try working this one with the answer already provided to compare with yours: 43896537 by 2785036 equals 122253435820332.

A great deal of our multiplying consists of not one but thousands of these multiplications, with the total of the individual answers required for the final result. For instance, in business the total value of an inventory is desired, which is the sum of the multiplications of the quantities of each of thousands of articles by their respective unit prices. Another such problem is the apportionment of revenue on railroads where two or more carriers handle millions of shipments and the total charges on each shipment are shared between the carriers upon a percentage basis determined by the stations between which each shipment moved. In the scientific world there are equally burdensome calculations of the positions of the stars in astronomy, of correlations in social sciences, of high-tension electric lines in electrical engineering, and countless others.

In this field of multiplication, where the sum of the products is the result desired, and where the most burdensome work by far is encountered, we have made great strides in recent years in providing tools for the direct calculation of the final results in a fraction of the time required to make the individual multiplications and ad...